‘Sick of the spin’: New Victorian Labor MPs say voters can no longer be taken for granted

Federal election 2022

Talk to Labor candidates who have won or could win traditional Liberal territory in Victoria, and they’ll tell you there was no single reason the Coalition lost in Victoria so comprehensively.

A hodgepodge of issues crop up, from climate change, to the need for manufacturing self-sufficiency, integrity in government, the rising cost of living, the treatment of women, or a sense that Victoria was overlooked and taken for granted by a Sydney-centric prime minister.

The incoming MP for Higgins, Michelle Ananda-Rajah, and Anthony Albanese during a visit to the polling site at Carnegie Primary School on Saturday.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

However, if there is a common theme, it is about the need for genuine ideas and debate, instead of the spin, obfuscation, poor behaviour and hollow promises voters said they had become depressingly accustomed to.

Labor’s incoming MP for the affluent, inner south-eastern seat of Higgins, Michelle Ananda-Rajah, said the government failed to understand “we are very much judged on outcomes”.

“We can’t ever take that for granted,” Ananda-Rajah told The Age.

“Voters were absolutely sick of the spin, the sloganeering, the gimmicks, the announcements, the non-delivery and also the adversarial-style of politics.”

In a result that has sent shock waves through the Liberal Party, Ananda-Rajah has been victorious in the once prized Liberal seat, with about 52.6 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote.

She says a dislike of Scott Morrison played a decisive role, along with growing alarm about climate change, as well as shifting demographics, as younger, more progressive voters moved to the electorate.

“This is a well-educated, urbane constituency. They are very well-informed … and in Scott Morrison they saw a leader who they just could not relate to who was an affront to their values. I think there is no question that he [negatively] influenced the result.”

There had also been a sense, she said, that Victoria was not just neglected by the federal government, but torn down by Morrison and former treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Josh Frydenberg has conceded the former blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong after 12 years of representing it.Credit:AAP

On Monday afternoon, Frydenberg conceded defeat to teal independent Monique Ryan in the neighbouring seat of Kooyong, an electorate where many of the same issues seemed to crop up.

The outgoing treasurer gave little away, releasing a statement saying he had phoned Ryan to congratulate her and wish her well.

“It’s been an incredible privilege to have served as the local member for the last 12 years,” he said. “Kooyong is where I grew up, and where, with my wife Amie, we are raising our family. Every day I have given the job my all.”

But Ryan, with about 54 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote, said she believed the Liberal Party had a problem with its female representation.

“It not for me to tell them what they need to do, but I think they’re going to have to look at lots of aspects of how they functioned in the last few years.

Of the Victorian Senate seats up for grabs at this election, two will go to Labor, one to the Liberals and one to the Nationals and one will go to The Greens. One Victorian senate seat is still undecided, with United Australia Party candidate Ralph Babet currently ahead.

Out on Melbourne’s eastern fringes, the seat of Deakin is on a knife-edge, as the counting of postal votes continued throughout the day.

By 4pm, Labor’s Matt Gregg had seen his lead over incumbent Michael Sukkar whittled away to just 59 votes, with a two-party preferred vote of 50.04 per cent.

Whether he wins the seat or not, Gregg says the Liberal Party’s attempt to make the federal election about Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had “insulted the intelligence of voters of Deakin”, aside from a small number of people who voted for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

“Telling voters to send Dan Andrews a message, there is nothing more absurd than changing your vote in a federal election to send a premier a message,” he told The Age. “It’s an absurd proposition, and people saw it as such.”

Gregg says voters were concerned about a diverse range of issues. Like Ananda-Rajah, he said voters wanted real solutions, rather than more politicking.

“There was no vision for the future, they weren’t listening to people’s concerns. I heard a lot of people commenting about the national anti-corruption commission.”

“Their dismissal of the idea of accountability and transparency, and having a strong anti-corruption commission, I think did affect them. Voters in Deakin, they are intelligent people and they take these things seriously. They weren’t falling for the one-liners trying to distract.”

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